When I say website traffic, it’s not only the real people who visit your website. In fact, it is a mixture of real people plus spiders, bots and other crawlers that visit your website for other purposes.
So, you can now imagine that your Google Analytics data does not only contain figures related to actual people but it is a mixture of both human and bot traffic.
The traffic that includes, hits from bots and spiders is known as spam traffic in Google Analytics.
Now you may ask yourself, few of the questions like,
Can I trust my Google Analytics data?
Can I make my business decisions based on inaccurate data?
How do I know if my analytics data is accurate?
Spam traffic is not the only thing that results in inaccurate data, but it is just one of the key factors.
The next very important thing to consider is to make sure if you are recording the right data in Google Analytics. For example, if you forget to enable demographic reports, you miss out on recording physical locations of your audience. Hence, you miss a great deal of demographical data.
So, in this article, I will walk you through the step by step process to make sure, your Google Analytics data is accurate and you are recording the right data.
What is Google Analytics audit?
The process of determining what to measure, making sure the analytics data is accurate, trustworthy and enables you to take business actions based on data is known to be a Google Analytics audit.
The Google Analytics audit should be based on the following components:
Does it collect what we need?
Can we trust this data?
Is there anything that can be fixed?
What reports should be setup?
Once you know what Google Analytics audit is, now it’s time to go through the step by step process to get it done.
Step1: Know thy business!
Before doing anything else in Google Analytics, your first step should be to collect information about the business. You should have a clear understanding about business type and how much they can spend.
Below are few of the questions you should know about the business:
Is the business owner new or returning?
How big is the company?
How much can they spend?
What is their knowledge regarding analytics?
If you are able to get the answers to the above questions, you will have a clear understanding of what kind of audit needs to be done.
Step2: What Platform is Website Built With?
The next very important information you need to know is the platform the website is built with. For example, you estimate the time needed to make a change and then realize the platform does not support it. You will be in a great trouble!
So it’s very important to know the type of CMS is used, if you are familiar with the platform and how much time will go into each suggestion based on the platform.
Step3: Understanding the User Needs
Before starting with your own suggestions, it is very important to understand the business end user (aka the client and consumer of data). This will help you understand what the user is looking for and if s/he has a good understanding of analytics.
Sometimes users have no idea about what analytics can do, so they have a requirement which is not even possible with analytics. Once you know the requirements, you can then ask yourself if you are able to do.
Create a list of things to do and what you don’t do. If you have any confusions, you have still the time to discuss with your client and clarify everything.
Step4: Highlight Key Objectives
Figuring out the real objective of the business is another important thing. Once you know the objective, you will think about the what data to collect and what reporting will be needed.
After deciding what to track, you should then ask yourself if you can track and how will it work. You will then have to decide if you can improve your recommendations based on the site objectives.
Step5: Add Proof with Every Issue
While doing the analytics audit, you should always add a small screenshot with every issue you found. If possible, make sure to add a related example to explain this issue.
Once you find the issues, you will have to make sure that there is a solution and you are able to fix it.
Step6: Things you must check while doing an Analytics Audit
When you do the audit, you should make sure all the below things are correct and nothing is missing.
Is the analytics structure logical? Redundant Views? Logical?
Start with basics? Timezone, currency, bots, default page, site search, account linking, excluding parameters, internal filters, self-referrals
Version of GA
Tracking code on all pages? You can check this manually or use gachecker.com
Duplicate tracking, unnecessary events, dimensions and metrics
Cross domain tracking
Account linking for adwords, search console
User id tracking?
Multiple accounts? List them all
Real time data check
Is enhanced link attribution turned on?
Enabled demographics and interest reports?
How much direct traffic?
Goals, events, funnels? Annotations? Custom alerts?
The above-listed things can be verified manually, but these Google Analytics chrome extensions can make your process easier.
Your recommendations should be based on the size of you the business. Bigger the business, better should be recommendations. You should always think one step forward and recommend what could be good to make the business successful.
For example, if the user is using the traditional Google Analytics dashboards, you can recommend using Data Studio for visual reporting. Furthermore, you can also recommend using multiple platforms like Facebook, Bing, Adwords, and other tools like Mixpanel, Kissmetrics or Amplitude for better event and people trackings.
Now the final step is how you are going to setup reporting for the type of business the user has. You will have to decide if the reporting should be based on site type or a custom report based on the KPIs.
Next, you have to decide which reporting tool would be better for the type of business. Will it be a traditional analytics dashboard, a custom sheet report or a visualized Data Studio report.
This is what we have learned doing Analytics audits in the last couple of years. If you have any tips and suggestions to improve, please buzz the comment section below. In case, you need an analytics audit like this, get in touch with us.